How many Australians have epilepsy?
It is estimated that in 2017–18, 0.6% (95% CI: 0.5–0.7) of Australians, or 151,000 people, had epilepsy, with the same prevalence observed in both males and females. These age-standardised rates were estimated from self-reported diagnosis of epilepsy data within the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2017–18 National Health Survey (ABS 2018a; 2018b). Epilepsy was most prevalent in the 65+ age group, with 0.9% of people in this age group self-reporting a diagnosis of epilepsy (Figure 2.1). As these estimates were calculated from self-reported data they potentially underestimate the prevalence of epilepsy in Australia.
Figure 2.1: Prevalence of self-reported epilepsy in Australia, by age and sex, 2017–18
This is a bar chart that displays the prevalence of epilepsy by age and sex. It shows the overall prevalence was the same for both males and females (0.6%). There is a slight increase in prevalence for both males and females as age increases.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
In 2018–19, it is estimated that 1.2% (95% CI: 0.8–1.6) of Indigenous Australians, or 9,000 people, had epilepsy. Indigenous Australians were twice as likely to report having epilepsy as non-Indigenous Australians (1.2% and 0.6% respectively) based on age-standardised data from the ABS 2018–19 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (ABS 2019).
The prevalence of epilepsy in male and female Indigenous Australians was similar (1.3% and 1.0% respectively). Due to the high margins of error, breakdowns of epilepsy prevalence by age groups could not be reported for Indigenous Australians with epilepsy.
ABS 2018a. National Health Survey: First results, 2017–18. ABS cat. no. 4364.0.55.001. Canberra: ABS.
ABS 2018b. Microdata: AIHW analysis of National Health Survey, 2017–18. ABS cat. no. 4324.0.55.001. Findings based on Detailed Microdata analysis. Canberra: ABS.
ABS 2018c. National Health Survey: Users’ Guide, 2017–18. ABS cat. No. 4363.0. Canberra: ABS.
ABS 2019. National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey, 2018-19. ABS cat. no. 4715.0. Canberra: ABS.